The Stellantis Software Strategy

Every OEM is chasing revenue from software-based services. Stellantis’s sizable global footprint may give it a leg up on some of its competitors.

Gary S. Vasilash

June 18, 2024

4 Min Read
Yves Bonnefont, Stellantis chief software officer, thinks automotive is the place to be for software developers because the industry is still building something that for it is comparatively new.Stellantis

CHELSEA, MI – Ned Curic has a breadth of background in technology development, ranging from working on satellites for Northrop-Grumman to Xbox for Microsoft, from serving as a chief technology officer at Toyota North America to working at Amazon on Alexa Automotive.

What do all these things have in common?


Presently, Curic is chief engineering and technology officer at Stellantis, reporting to CEO Carlos Tavares.

While it might seem that some of this background might only be tangential to the auto industry, Curic tells WardsAuto that when it comes to software, once you get below the application layer  – the thing you see on the screen of your computer, phone or in-vehicle display – the code below has plenty of similarities.

What’s more, as Stellantis has a goal of achieving €20 billion ($21.4 billion) in revenue from software by 2030, experiences in consumer-facing companies such as Microsoft and Amazon are actually quite beneficial for an OEM.

So, it is not surprising that OEMs are aggressively pursuing software engineers from outside the industry. But one has to ask why someone might want to go to auto.

Why Go Auto?

Yves Bonnefont, Stellantis chief software officer – who spent more than a decade at McKinsey, so he has organizational and technical grounding in various other industries beyond auto –answers: “The biggest technology challenge is in the auto industry.”

He uses Amazon as an example. The technology that millions of people use every day to buy things (Amazon Prime has over 200 million members globally) was, Bonnefont says, built 20 years ago. Amazon has been improving it but, he explains, the fundamental structures are in place.

“In automotive, it’s all disruptions. It is growing. It is exciting. And there isn’t much we don’t need,” Bonnefont says.

In other words, for software engineers who want to build something, automotive is the place to be.

Because Stellantis is a company with 14 brands and a global footprint – Heiko Schilling, Stellantis head of Software & AI Engineering, points out there are 10 tech centers located around the world so there is 24/7 development occurring – work that engineers do is likely to see deployment.

In other words: Developers get to do important work that is likely going into a vehicle, not residing in a cloud.

The Three Platforms

One of the biggest deployments will occur in 2025 as the company introduces technology platforms that will serve as the basis of Stellantis software-defined vehicles:

  • STLA Brain: a centralized architecture that reduces the number of ECUs in a vehicle. Maria Uvarova, head of Software Product Management, says that in the currently deployed Atlantis High in-vehicle electronics communication setup there are 119 ECUs. This will be reduced by 20% at the technical start-of-production (SOP) by the end of 2024 (Stellantis differentiates between the technical SOP and the vehicular SOP: the former is when the tech is ready to go, so STLA Brain will be launched in a vehicle in 2025). Then, she says, the next iteration will cut it by 50%.

  • STLA SmartCockpit: This platform will replace the Uconnect infotainment and connected services interface that has been undergoing iterations since 2003. Dhruv Chadha, who works on SmartCockpit, says the goal is to make user interactions simpler – e.g., reducing the number of virtual buttons by 50% so there is less a need for “click depth,” or getting to the function that the user wants to perform – and easier – with a ChatGPT-enhanced virtual assistant (Stellantis has brought that AI system into vehicles available in Europe this year and plans to bring it to other markets, including the U.S., in 2025).

  • STLA AutoDrive: This is essentially the Stellantis version of General Motors’ Super Cruise or Ford’s BlueCruise, though Bonnefont is talking Level 3 – meaning eyes-off capability. Again, a commercial launch in 2025, although Bonnefont doesn’t identify the brand, vehicle or location where it will first appear.

Some Notable Numbers

Presently Stellantis has some 4,000 software developers, of whom approximately 400 are AI engineers.

In 2023 Stellantis performed 94 million over-the-air (OTA) updates. (Bonnefont says there are three elements required for a software-defined vehicle: (1) centralized hardware that can access all actuators and sensors, (2) OTA capability that can provide new functionality and (3) a software configuration management system that helps orchestrate things.)

Mamatha Chamarthi, Stellantis head of Software Business Management, says at present the company has more than 5 million active, paid subscriptions to things like stolen vehicle tracking (which she says is in high demand in South America, where there is a 94% recovery rate), remote operation and satellite radio.One interesting thing Stellantis is doing in the software space is not only looking at what it can provide to new vehicles, but providing new software to existing vehicles. If it can connect to the Stellantis cloud, then they’re interested in leveraging it. Consequently, it calculates it presently has 13.8 million vehicles in what is described as a “monetizable connected-car parc.”

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